How do I ask for a pay rise?

27 February 2015 -


Want some more money in your pocket? Here are some hands-on tips for how to get a result from your personal development plan – and leave the negotiation table smiling

Better performance doesn’t equal better pay.

It’s simple; if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Feeling unsatisfied with your salary and disheartened by the fact that no-one’s noticing your virtuosity is unlikely to get you anywhere. This attitude emanates from the assumption that good performance is automatically rewarded by salary increases and other benefits, in line with what you perceive as your personal development plan. Due to budgetary pressures, your employer will be reluctant to consider bumping up your pay you unless you voice your expectations. It is your job to make clear to them why and in what way you deserve more.

So, what is the most effective way to negotiate a salary increase? 

1. Timing is everything

Naturally, a sly comment in the lift on your way up to the office or a remark by the coffee machine might not be the most advisable way to approach your boss. Avoid Monday mornings – bosses tend to be too busy and preoccupied to give your request a fair hearing. The key is to prearrange a meeting, preferably upon successfully completing a major project, prepare rigorously and build your argument logically and concisely. Focus on setting out clearly the value you believe you are adding to the company – often this is not as clear to senior management as it is to you. Omit any changes in personal circumstances that may have triggered your request for a salary increase, the key is to prove you are worth it, not that you need it. It might also be worth keeping an eye on how the company is doing and try to avoid asking for a salary increase immediately after a significant setback. 

2. Do your homework

Promotions or pay rises are based on your value in the market, rather than your own perception of how valuable your efforts are. It’s therefore important to research the job market and compare salary levels across private and public sectors before putting your expectations on the table. Then, arrange a meeting and prepare rigorously. The manner in which you justify your request to your employer will make all the difference. Be realistic in what you ask for and back it with solid evidence. Your task here is to convince them that there is in fact no other logical outcome but a promotion or pay increase. A well-argued case leaves no ambiguity for the decision maker. 

3. Take risks and you might be lucky

Maybe there are other ways of getting what you want more effectively? If you pair your request with a positive suggestion, such as a call for more responsibility or a performance-related bonus, your employer is more likely to see your initiative as proactive and constructive and financially justifiable. If you express your desire to advance your career, regardless of whether your request is successful or not at this instance, it reaffirms your commitment to your employer.

Whatever happens, try to make yourself indispensable. If a promotion or a pay rise does not come when you ask, make sure you continue to jump on all opportunities that come your way, whether or not they come with generous monetary rewards attached. Promotion or increased responsibility provide experience and make you more valuable on the job market. Don’t wait for a vacancy to pop up but invest time and effort in proving you’re worth more than you’re getting by aiming higher.


  • Don’t wait for a rise to come to you: ask for it!
  • Book a meeting, and prepare well for arguing your case
  • Avoid pinch-points such as Monday and Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons
  • Focus on proving you are worth it, rather than you need it
  • Avoid asking for a rise in the wake of a financial setback for the company
  • Take on more responsibility whether or not it is accompanied by an immediate rise – make yourself indispensable
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